According to a recent study conducted by the American Vision Council, 30 percent of adults spend more than nine hours a day on a computer or other digital device. Those who spend excessive time in front of computers are all too familiar with vision problems such as eye strain, itchy eyes, dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches. Over time, repeated eye strain can cause permanent damage to your eyes.
It’s difficult to avoid computer eye issues when your job requires you to be in front of a screen all day. Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to help protect your eyes from computer eye strain. Some of them include:
Remember to blink: The natural impulse to blink slows down when we perform tasks that are visually intense. When you fail to blink, the tears that coat the eye evaporate more quickly leading to dry eyes that become painful and sore. Unfortunately, the air in many offices is dry and that can also irritate your eyes. Keep a bottle of natural saline eye drops nearby and use them every two to three hours.
Use proper lighting: Eye strain can be triggered by poor lighting. Keep overhead light to a minimum and make sure the lamps on your desk are focused on your work area, not on you. Try to put your computer in a position that minimizes reflections from the window to prevent vision problems.
Get regular check-ups: Our eyes change as we age and it is important to have your eyes regularly checked by an ophthalmologist. If your prescription is correct you are less likely to strain your eyes. So request eyeglasses with an anti-reflective coating. You can also talk to your doctor about glasses that are specifically designed for people who must spend prolonged periods of time at computers.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Eye health professionals recommend that every 20 minutes you spend 20 seconds looking at something that is at least 20 feet away. This allows the muscles in your eyes to use the full range of their focus instead of the fixed difference between you and your screen.
Make adjustments: Experiment with different background colors and levels of brightness. Increase font size so you don’t have to squint. Keep your monitor surface clean so it can be easily read. A simple tilt of your computer screen may help minimize glare.
While computer use on the job may be unavoidable, do yourself a favor and minimize the time you spend on digital devices during your “off” hours. Resist the urge to check your smart phone every few minutes. Remember how much fun it used to be have dinner without the interruptions of email and text alerts? Rediscover the magic of a family evening during which you have actual conversations, not virtual ones.